Aurora Prehistoric Scenes “Jungle Swamp”
We have been reminiscing about some of the dinosaur model kits that were around in the 1970s and early 1980s. There were a number of manufacturers who produced dinosaur model kits but perhaps the most sought after and certainly a favourite amongst collectors was the “Prehistoric Scenes” series made by Aurora Plastics. A total of seventeen model kits made up the series, fourteen came out in the early 1970s (we think), with the final models in the series, a huge T. rex modelled in red plastic with glow-in-the-dark teeth and eyes, an Ankylosaurus and a kit featuring a Sail-back reptile (Dimetrodon) were added a few years later.
The Aurora models included snap-together plastic kits of prehistoric animals plus bases that fitted together to form a huge display in which all the models could be shown together. The resulting diorama may not have been chronologically accurate, but for young children and keen dinosaur fans this did not seem to matter. After all, does it matter if the Woolly Mammoth model is placed close to the Allosaurus – not really.
The kits are highly collectible. It was not only dinosaurs and prehistoric animals that were featured. In a move, we think unique to Aurora Plastics the company introduced a number of “location models” as we call them. There was a beautifully crafted tar pit, based on La Brea in California, plus a cave set. The cave acted as a home for the two Cro-Magnon figures produced in the series and it linked with the Cave Bear model’s base. Our favourite amongst these “location models” was the Jungle Swamp. This set only featured one dinosaur – Compsognathus but it was a fantastic set created in green and brown plastic.
The Box Art from the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Jungle Swamp
Aurora designed their kits to snap together, so no glue was required. This allowed some of the limbs to move on the models. Several of the kits came with interchangeable parts so the modeler could change the way their model looked. We don’t recall the Jungle Swamp kit coming with any interchangeable limbs or other parts that could be swapped on the animals, but the clever design of this plastic kit enabled a number of tree designs to be created. We had a go at naming the animals featured in this kit (without peeping at the box art). The animals we could remember were:
- Two Rhamphorhynchids (one flying one climbing a tree) – Jurassic.
- Eohippus (primitive horse) – also referred to as Hyracotherium – Palaeogene/Neogene
- Compsognathus – the only dinosaur featured – Jurassic
- Archaeopteryx – Jurassic
- A snake – resembling a Boa or Python (Cretaceous, Palaeogene/Neogene)?
- A Diplocaulus – a Lepospondyl amphibian from the Permian, depicted emerging from the small pond that formed part of the set
- A Kuehnesosaurus – Triassic (we think), this was the last model in the Jungle Swamp scene that we could remember, it was a light green, plastic model of a lizard-like creature which had long ribs covered in skin which acted like wings enabling this creature to glide. A second model of this reptile was included in another kit made by Aurora, the Giant Bird (Phorusrhacos gen.)
The entire kit featured something like sixty pieces, we still have one of these kits somewhere, perhaps one day we will find it and put the pieces back together again, so that we can relive our childhood memories.